Georgia State Panthers (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 17 at 12pm ET
Where: Camp Randall
by Evergreen, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GST +34/UW -34
Over/Under Total: OFF
David versus Goliath is a tale forever told and an appropriate analogy for many matchups during the college football season. The Georgia State Panthers have hopes to play the part of David as travel to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers this weekend. Georgia State is in just its 7th season overall as a D1 program and its 4th as an FBS school so there have been plenty of uphill battles for the Panther players since day one. A clash with the Badgers at Camp Randall is one of the stiffest tests you can take but G-State has never been shy about facing the big dogs with games against Tennessee, Bama, Oregon, West Virginia and Clemson already under their all-time belt. They haven’t won any of them but you have to give them credit for taking the bull by the horns.
As you would guess, the Badgers are big favorites in this one with the online betting sites currently listing Wisconsin at -34. Georgia State had some good showings last year and enters this week 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as the visitor but they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five outside of conference. Wisconsin is 4-0 against the spread in their last four outside the Big Ten and 4-1 ATS in the last five at Camp Randall.
Bill Curry was the head coach at the inception of the Georgia State program but his tenure was always meant to be short and Trent Miles took over heading into the 2013 season. Miles had head coaching experience from Indiana State and served for many years as an assistant at high level programs including Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington and the Green Bay Packers. He hasn’t been able to turn that coaching pedigree into too many wins with just a 7-32 overall record but the Panthers did finish 2015 with a 6-6 record and earned a trip to the AutoNation Cure Bowl where they fell 27-16 to San Jose State. Last season was by far the best in the history of the program from a wins and losses perspective and they will look to improve on their 4th place finish in the Sun Belt Conference.
That momentum gained has not translated to wins this season however and the Panthers come to Madison at 0-2. They dropped a 31-21 decision to Ball State in their home opener and were on the wrong side of a 48-14 score at Air Force last week. They jumped to 7-0 leads in both contests but were rather quickly bowled over by the ground game and could not answer the bell on offense. Georgia State has looked overmatched in stopping the run, allowing 325 and 464 yards with the opposition averaging nearly six yards per carry. Aside from the obvious yards and points that are allowed when you can’t stop the run, your defense is spent by the second half and the time of possession battle is wildly in the favor of the opponent. It doesn’t get any easier as Wisconsin’s running game is productive and healthy, averaging 214 yards per game.
Wisconsin pulled the 16-14 upset of LSU at Lambeau Field in the season opener. Most impressive from that game was the tenacity of the Badger defense despite the loss of Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda. UW was able to bottle up Leonard Fournette for most of the game and Bart Houston made enough throws in his first game as a starter to get the win. Things were a bit easier for Bucky last week with a 54-10 throttling of visiting Akron. Corey Clement appears back to full strength making the Badger running game the potent and consistent force that it wasn’t in his absence last season. Houston has shown a willingness to spread the ball around and three Wisconsin pass-catchers enter the week with over 100 yards receiving. The chances that this is a big passing game for UW is pretty low as the will certainly have scouted the weaknesses of a defense that is allowing nearly 400 rushing yards per game. Clement did exit the Akron game to get his left ankle re-taped but reportedly could have returned to the game and is not listed on the early week injury report.
Georgia State has Utah transfer Conner Manning at QB as their main passing threat with Aaron Winchester playing some packages as a running quarterback. Manning has thrown for 298 yards and three touchdowns with Winchester averaging over five yards a carry with one rushing score. It has been tough sledding for the Panthers and the lack of a ground game on their part puts them long down-and-distance situations. To make matters worse for this week, WRs Todd Boyd and Penny Hart are both listed as questionable, leaving the cupboard pretty bare in terms of experienced skill players if they should miss this one. The Badgers are without LB Chris Orr and SB Natrell Jamerson but it does not look like Georgia State has the ability to exploit those losses.
There were a lot of years in the mid-2000’s that Wisconsin was a poor bet to cover the spread against the lesser teams on their schedule but I think the 34 is not too much to eat given this opponent. In what has to be the most amazing stat I’ve seen so far, Georgia State allowed 83 rushing attempts in their game last week. Now, Air Force is nearly a run-only offense so it isn’t surprising that they simply kept with the ground game but everyone knows they run all the time and the Panthers could do nothing to stop them. What do you think Wisconsin is going to do? The Badger defense has played well in both contests, giving up just 12 points per game and the 14th fewest yards in the country. I really can’t see what Georgia State is going to be able to do in order to keep Wisconsin from racking up close to 50 and get some points on the board themselves. Even if Paul Chryst holds Clement out, there is enough RB talent for Wisconsin to run the ball, score and control the game from whistle-to-whistle. This has legitimate shutout potential and I’m taking the Badgers with a prediction of 49-7.
Evergreen's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wisconsin
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